The Classic Cleaning Products That Mama Swore By—And Now We Do Too
Mama knows a thing or two about how to scrub years of wear and tear off of a sheet pan. She knows how to get a tarnished silver tray sparkling like it’s straight out of the bridal registry box. And that stinky laundry that you’ve run three times and keep forgetting to move over to the dryer? Don’t you worry, Mama’s got that covered too. Grab a pair of yellow rubber gloves, your most trustworthy bucket and brush, and let’s get to cleaning the way Mama taught us. We’ve tapped into a few of her favorite household cleaning products, most of which you can still get your hands on today. Now, Mama’s infamous elbow grease? As she always says, practice makes perfect.
If you’ve never stripped towels and sheets, give it a try—just be sure to grab the popcorn and a few of the best cleaning products out there. Start by filling a large bucket with hot water and a 1 to 1 to 2 ratio of borax, washing soda, and detergent. Throw in your linens and let them soak for four hours, stirring occasionally. All the nasty dirt and grime that’s been living on your towels and sheets will have settled to the bottom by the time you’re finished. Run the stripped items through the washing machine on a water-only cycle to rinse away any remaining dirt, debris, or cleaning solution.
Uses: Mold and mildew, bugs, stains, residue, and odors are no match for a little borax.
Buy It: 20 Mule Team Borax Detergent Booster & Multi-Purpose Household Cleaner, $4.47; walmart.com
Bar Keepers Friend
There’s not a pot, pan, or oven that can’t get a fairy godmother-like makeover with a dash of Bar Keepers. Even those pans that have seen one too many Thanksgiving disasters and are collecting dust in cabinet corners unknown can see a transformation well worth the effort.
Uses: Keep your sink sparkling (or finally get it that way); remove the toughest stains, stuck-on grime, and even rust.
Buy It: Bar Keepers Friend Powdered Cleanser, $1.99; target.com
No list of the best cleaning products for your home is complete without a little baking soda. Mama came over once and noticed there was no box of baking soda in the fridge. Shame. Mama knows that stinky fridges and freezers, grime-covered cooktops, and slow-draining sinks all can benefit from this household do-it-all.
Uses: Sprinkle on a wet sponge to clean stovetops, grout, and tile. It can also be used as a way to freshen up drains or eliminate clogs. Arm & Hammer offers step-by-step instructions for how to use their baking soda for deodorizing a trash can and cleaning a garbage disposal.
Buy It: Arm & Hammer Pure Baking Soda, $2.29; target.com
If you’re not using cleaning vinegar to clean just about every large appliance you own, let us introduce you to some of the most gratifying (albeit tedious) tasks around. Hello, weekend plans. A cup of vinegar is the secret ingredient behind your cleanest washing machine ever.
Uses: Clean coffee makers, washing machines, walls, windows, doors. A couple tablespoons of distilled white vinegar can also keep cut flowers fresh.
Buy It: Smartly Cleaning Vinegar, $2.69; target.com
This natural soap is plant-based and gentle enough for using throughout your home, including on marble countertops and just about any type of flooring. You can also use it as a fruit and veggie rinse or dog shampoo. For the proper dilution formulas, refer to Dr. Bronner’s Pure-Castile Soap Dilutions Cheat Sheet.
Uses: Use as a face wash, body wash, produce wash, laundry soap, and all-purpose cleaning solution.
Buy It: Dr. Bronner's Hemp Peppermint Pure Castile Soap, $33.20/pack of 2; amazon.com